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Cal Football Fall Practice 8/17: Walk The Line

via <a href="">Cal Bears Online</a>
via Cal Bears Online

If the end of week 1 is the high point of optimism, the end of week 2 is when it's time to get a little downbeat and temper expectations. When a team has a weakness in the Pac-12, it's hard to overlook it and hope for everything to be alright, because it usually gets exposed over the course of the season.

Namely, our offensive line is pretty thin. And our defensive line continues to get banged up. If these units aren't healthy, commence mayhem for this season.

Among the big uglies, Cal feels like a five-six man unit, because it essentially is. Chris Adcock appears to have won the right guard spot, with Geoffrey Gibson right behind as the primary backup guard. But the shuffling is a bit more complicated than that.

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"There is no such thing as threes anymore," Tedford said. "The threes are rotating with the twos. We're to the point where there are no threes -- there are no twos on the D-line anymore, so we're definitely not at threes."

With Dominic Galas out for much of the season, the Bears have only two returning starters, and only five players on their line that have ever hit the field at all. Jordan Rigsbee is a redshirt frosh (although his early reviews are promising) and his fifth-year senior brother Tyler has had to wait his turn behind Mitchell Schwartz and Matt Summers-Gavin (only eight games ever played as a backup).

Thus, you hear names like Freddie Tagaloa and Matt Cochran getting thrown around on the two deep, which is terrifying. You almost never want to see freshman offensive linemen on the field, as they're usually only out there because everyone else ahead of them got injured. With very rare exceptions, you always want to redshirt the true freshmen and get them a year to get conditioned for the college grind and acclimated to the schemes, even guys as talented as Tagaloa and Cochran. It's quite possible we won't have that luxury.

So you have Cochran getting thrown out there as one of the main possibilities as backup center, but if he isn't ready, Adcock might have to shift over and Gibson gets put back at right guard. Or you have Rigsbee shift over to center and Gibson or Alejandro Crosthwaite take over at left guard. That's a bunch of linemen with no playing experience at all.

So it's a bit worrisome. The Cal offensive line has been playing well in practice, but they haven't really faced a fierce defensive rotation either. The guys there are getting hurt too much.

In recent days, defensive linemen Deandre Coleman (foot), Mustafa Jalil (knee), Viliami Moala (head) and Puka Lopa (foot) all have been sidelined by what Tedford has described, in general terms, as minor injuries.

With Austin Clark sidelined as well, that pretty much leaves Payne and Tipoti in terms of experienced guys left, and they generally play the same position (although Tipoti can move over to defensive end). After that, all that's left is Keni Kaufusi, Gabe King, Todd Barr, and the intriguing late JuCo commit Antonie Davis. So it's hard to make a judgment call on how well this offense will perform against a fully-functioning defensive unit.

So yeah. There's a lot of good stuff to look forward to with regards to skill players, but the trenches remain a concern spot. Poor line play has sunk Cal before. It could do so again. They have to stay healthy.

Previous fall practice stories: 8/16 | 8/15 | 8/14 | 8/13 | 8/10 & 8/11 | 8/9 | 8/8 | 8/7 | 8/6 | 8/5 | 8/4

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